“Don’t google your name. Ever.
Don’t “search” for yourself
on anything that glows in the dark.
Don’t let your beauty
be something anyone can turn off.
Don’t edit your ugly out of your bio.
Let your light come from the fire.
Let your pain be the spark,
but not the timber.
Remember, you didn’t come here
to write your heart out.
You came to write it in.”
- Andrea Gibson
I've never been one to share much. I know that sounds funny coming from someone that is on social media writing updates and writing blogs constantly, but I've never been one to be incredibly open about things that are personal and private. Even with the friends that I had while I was growing up, I was always very hesitant to speak a word of what was going on with me. I always thought that the moment you begin talking about things that aren't pleasant was the exact moment that people would start looking at you differently. Now you aren't the posed person in a glossy Instagram photo, or the girl who (sometimes) writes funny and sarcastic tweets. Suddenly you are real and your brokenness is showing; all of the bits you've hidden away in diaries, all of the avoided eye contact and shortness of breath as soon as someone asks you something personal, all of the words that are stuck in the pit of your stomach, and all of the tears from leaky eyes that form quickly but never can seem to fall.
I learned to bottle things up tightly. No air was allowed to escape. When you're young, it feels like everyone else has a better life. I didn't feel like anyone could relate or understand my story. It always felt like everyone else was living a life that was lighter than my own. I remember being really young and crying in bed, asking a God who I've never quite believed in why I was given this life. Very melodramatic for a girl who has a roof over her head and food in her belly, but everything seemed like the worst when you're young.
I found the Internet as a huge escape as a kid. It acted as a way out of the dreariness and loneliness. As someone who hid away all of her creative work that consisted of stories, art, and essays during my time in school, becoming more open with my art and my struggles was a new experience. I found likeminded girls who were accepting and loving, and I was constantly inspired by what they were creating. When I first signed up for this blog back in 2009, I was 16/17 and in my 11th year of school. I was getting so much inspiration from the Internet; I was using Tumblr like it was going out of style, feverishly reblogging photos of my style icons, like Alexa Chung and Florence Welch, and immersing myself in the world of eccentricity through dressing. It was a fashion blog by a girl named Emma that first inspired me to begin my own blog. I thought that I could be a Style Blogger, even without that great of style. Then I found the art of Gemma Correll and thought I could be an Art Blogger, but that failed quite quickly. As someone who has been flicking her liquid eyeliner to make a cat-eye since 2009, I didn't even bother ever becoming a beauty blogger (especially since I'm pretty sure I left the house wearing bronzer that looked like I was trying to use it as a self-tanner). Basically, I felt like a bit of a failure. I didn't feel like I had the creativity to create my own space on the web anymore.
After a few years of being quiet on this blog, I started writing again. At first it was just little blurbs, like writing about turning a year older or loving thy selfie. I remembered how I felt at 14, finding my own tribe of supporters who were ready to be kind and warm and accepting of who I was, and that happened again. I remembered how freeing it was to tell my own story—just as it is. Things that weighed heavily were now being exposed; the lid was being twisted off of that tight bottle. I began writing away everything that I bottled up for so long. Writing became the process that was essentially ripping off a bandaid to let some air heal the wound.
A few weeks ago I was writing something new and I couldn't get past thoughts that consisted of me doubting my story and what I have to say. What do you have to say that's of worth? How could anyone care to read or listen to what you have to say? Who would ever want to read about your silly stories? I didn't push these thoughts out of my head. Instead, I fought them and faced them head-on. I reminded myself that there is no wrong way to tell my story. I'm never going to be the most writer ever, and sometimes my sentences don't make sense or I use the wrong their/they're/there (by accident, I promise), but I have to continuously tell myself that my story matters and that it's my job to tell it. My story matters because it's mine. Whether that story is being told on through tweets or Instagram captions or on this blog, it matters. It doesn't have to matter to one or one thousand people. It just has to matter to me.
When I start to feel like my story and journey is irrelevant to others, I try think of trailblazers like Louise, who has had a rollercoaster of a life, and how she tells her story just as it is. She tells it and doesn't sugarcoat it whatsoever. I try to remember all of my friends who tell their stories just as they are, whether it's Anna's story about domestic abuse, Lauren's story about trauma, Rachel's story about depression, Beverley's story on unpacking the past, Bianca's story about aging gracefully, Selah's story about moving on, or any other story that has been told in any form. What we've been through matters. The things we've survived—the things we've had to fight for—matter. What we have to say matters, regardless of whether our voices are loud or quiet. Regardless of whether one person or one thousand people read our stories. Regardless of whether you're writing about mental health, about a new tube of lipstick, or about finding yourself—your story is worth it. Just like you, your story matters.
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